Path of Exile Delirium League: Thoughts & Speculation

Its time for another discussion about Path of Exile (I write about this a fair amount, don’t I?) and I hope you don’t mind gentle readers.

Today, I wanna talk about the upcoming announced Delirium League, launching on March 13th! Its time for RAMPANT SPECULATION YET AGAIN! That is what this is by the way, speculation and theories!

First, lets give ya the trailer (its wild everyone)

Madness am I right? Now, you can view the official launch page right here which will give you a starting point for discussion. But lets break down what we know so far.

First, obviously, we have new skill gems. This comes with every league, however, unlike previous leagues which focused on specific gem types (spell, melee, bow, ect) this time the developers have apparently been given carte blanche to do what they want. Thats why we are getting things like Kinetic Bolt which is apparently a chaining wand skill gem attack (that is supposedly available at level 1) and Blade Blast, which will detonate blades that are now left behind from other skills like EK and Bladefall. Nothing has been said about upcoming new supports at the time of writing this so I can’t speak on those. We also have new uniques which are kind of interesting, like Perfidy, which allows you to use 2 Banner skills at the same time and speeds up their charge generation.

Then of course we have the league mechanic. The basic premise is as follows: you find this “Mirror of Delirium” in a zone and walk through it. By doing so you enter a warped world where monsters are given new abilities, league mechanics from previous leagues become modified, and you can find unique rewards within it. There is also mention of “going deeper” into the madness, which I assume means that after you go far enough away from the starting point things get harder and harder, with better rewards in exchange for the risk. However, I am not sure how we leave the madness at the moment. Is there a kill counter? Is there a timer? It doesn’t way in either the trailer or on the website.

There are also indications of items that will let you “Corrupt” maps at the end game coverting them into pure Delirium Maps, which will alter the rewards of the map as well. I assume this is how you will get access to the new endgame encounter the Simulacrum, which sounds like its going to be a copy of SOMETHING that you have to fight against (thats kind of what the word Simulacrum means, my guess is you will fight yourself. What is the greatest enemy of a person? Themselves Exile…themselves…their own fear and madness!)

I like the look of this mechanic, personally. I always enjoy “breach style” encounters, especially when they are optional. I am also curious how it will interact with things like breach, the temple encounters, and especially the Blight ones! Can you imagine doing a Blight tower defense encounter while inside the Delirium Mist? Dear god in heaven Exile that is going to be, well, madness!

However, the single biggest thing that excites me about this league over all are the new “Cluster Jewel” items. These things are in a word “Bonkers”. So anyone who has played Path of Exile has run into a Jewel. These are items you socket into your passive skill tree in order to add effects. An example of a normal jewel would be this!

However, Cluster Jewels are are something special. Added specifically to Delirium League, these jewels only function when placed in a jewel socket on the OUTSIDE of the passive tree. And what they do is GIVE YOU AN ENTIRE NEW SECTION OR BRANCH ON THE PASSIVE TREE WITH NEW NODES! You can even chain the Cluster Jewels going from Large, to Medium, to Small creating new paths with unique nodes. They have a good example of this on the website, but let me show you an image with some added text giving you an idea

Cluster Jewels!

These jewels appear to come in Magic, Rare, and Unique types, meaning you can get Cluster Jewels rolled with all sorts of strange combinations. There are also roughly 280 new “Notable” nodes, which are listed on that site. I am very excited to see just what sorts of combinations you can get, and this will encourage people I think to path to the outside of the passive tree JUST so they can use these nodes. I do imagine, however, you will need to spend skill points to path thru the nodes. I also wonder what would happen if you socket a jewel, and then remove it after spending said skill points. Do you get the points back as if respeced? Do they vanish?

We need more concrete info as to just how these Cluster Jewels will work in practice. The ones listed on the website are fascinating to look at. The Large Rare jewel listed there for example adds “10 New Passive Skills” and 2 brand new Notables, all focused on attack damage (so a weapon based physical build would love it) for instance. The Unique “Voices” listed there is one I imagine EVERYONE will want as it specifically adds 3 Jewel sockets + 1 small node that does nothing, meaning you can chain a TON off it! It being a large means you could connect 3 different medium or small nodes, and if you manage 3 rare Mediums you could then in theory, assuming any add sockets of their own as shown in that image above, chain more off them.

Finally they are making improvements to the Atlas of Worlds to make it more deterministic. I got bored with my build last league but I did make it to maps and actually completed 2 of the new fights, so there is that.

I am excited to yet again dive into a new Path of Exile league, and Delirium is looking to be something amazing. It releases on March 13th, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Hope to see you there Exiles!

Magic the Gathering Legends: Game Informer Trailer Breakdown & Rampant Speculation!

Today 1/9/2020 Game Informer released a 10 minute Gameplay Trailer showing 2 of the 5 classes for Magic the Gathering Legends, along with 2 of the Planes we will be travelling in this upcoming Free to Play ARPG coming from Cryptic Studios.  Game Informer in fact will doing a full month of coverage for January!

When this game was announced I was super interested.  We havent had a game set in the MTG universe since Shandalar, which was released back in April 1997 for Windows 95.  That game by the way was an open world RPG where you built a deck of cards and beat up wizards who represented the 5 colors of magic.

Since then the only digital games for MTG have been card games (MTGO, MTG Arena, the Planeswalker Duel games, ect) but an ARPG set in the plane of Dominara?  That had my interest from the moment I found out about it.  Since then I have learned its being described as a “Deck Builder Action RPG” which is…odd to say the least.  But I am willing to try it.

So, lets have some fun and using both the official MTG Legends Website and the Game Informer Gameplay Trailer generate some wild speculation about whats coming and how things are going to play out.  First, lets link the Trailer Article and the Game Informer Hub for Legends.  I am going to do this bullet point style for what I notice.

  • Early on you can see two mana types on the bottom, white and blue, filling up under the healthbar. The LB and RB hold some sort of abilities. Controller based control scheme.
  • UI is super clean right now, easy to read and understand. I like it.
  • The lower right has 4 action buttons, some of which are summons, some are abilities, seems like the spells change. Deck based.
  • There is a small icon below the 4 buttons that seem to be your next “card” from your deck. Not sure how “random” drawing is gonna feel
  • Deck is 12 cards, you “draw” from your deck and use the card mapped to your buttons
  • Decks are separate from your class, and you can mix and match spells (so you can do Red / Green / White maybe?  All 5 colors?  Will there be Artifact / Colorless I wonder)
  • Looks like there is some sort of auto attack as the base pulse the mind mage is using is NOT draining his mana NOR rotating a card
  • Class might dictate your auto attack and your escape ability. Unless everyone has that magic pulse….
  • Every class has an escape ability. The mind mage makes a doppleganger (Classic blue trick). That seems to be LB, not sure what RB is. Self Buff based on class?
  • There is an AI Director that will make things harder / challenging on the fly?!
  • There is some sort of “mana” pickup. Is that for the character

Now that we have discussed the trailer and what is shown there, lets discuss the website itself which has some choice tidbits!  Also, they are doing alpha/beta signups on there so you might want to consider jumping in.  I did the second day it was available.

Now there is not too much on the website that bears discussion….except we have 5 symbols representing the 5 Mage Classes and a number of slides that show potential areas we will be exploring!

Two of the symbols have already been revealed: That of the Mind Mage, and the Geomancer.  Now MTG has 5 colors (Blue, Red, Green, Black, and White) each one representing a style of magic. Blue, for example, is all about control and manipulation.  Red is all about direct damage and speed.  Green is about growth, big creatures, and buffs.  Black is about life manipulation, undeath, and risk/reward.  White is about life, protection, and defense.

The Mind Mage, based on both the color scheme and the themes listed on the website is very clearly the Blue Mage of the team.  The Geomancer is clearly the Red Mage (again, colors and themes).  But what about the other three symbols?

Well the first symbol is a Skull.  That screams Black, and most likely is a Necromancer typed mage.  I am going to suggest they deal with draining life, and maybe even raising an army of expendable minions.  Most ARPGs have a minion master archtype anyway, and Black fits that bill.

The next symbol is a beastial one, with horns and a muzzle.  That screams Green to me, and given what I am seeing with the others is prolly going to be our Druid type.  Nature spells, some buffs, and most likely shape shifting into wild creatures.

Finally, we have a pair of angelic wings.  Thats a white mage, no bones about it.  My guess is this will be the class comps healer, with some buffs, defensive spells, and probebly holy magic.

Obviously I could be way off here but we got 5 classes, 5 colors.  It makes sense especially given what I personally know of MTG (I played from about 1993 and 4th Ed up through about 2007ish).  It could be that the spells each class gets access to base wise represent those “archetypes” but with both a class AND deck going on I wonder just how much one will affect the other.

Now the potential areas are interesting as well.  SO far, we have Shiv and Benalia.  Shiv is traditional associated with Red magic, so my guess is that will be a red magic themed area.  Benalia however has always had a close association with White mages (Benalish hero is a very old white creature card, for example).  And wouldnt ya know it, but there are 3 more areas….and 3 colors that are not represented!

My guess is Phyrexia or Urbog will cover the Black one.  Most likely Phyrexia as that I believe is part of the Dominaria sphere.  I cannot however recall what areas would be associated with Blue or Green off hand, but clearly we are going to have Black, Green, and Blue regions in addition to Red and White.

Overall I am very excited about this game, and while Cryptic themselves has a bit of a reputation among MMO players, I am pretty sure that being involved with a license as large as Magic the Gathering and Wizards of the Coast will help keep things on an even keel.

There are no confirmed alpha, beta, or release dates at this time for Magic the Gathering Legends.  I for one an eagerly awaiting it!

TN’s Indie Impressions – Valdis Story: Abyssal City

Ever wanted to be a JRPG hero in a world of Angels, Demons, and Underwater Secrets? How bout a dude wielding a big fuck you sword? No I am not referring to Final Fantasy Seven but rather the clearly Symphony of the Night inspired Metroidvania Valid Story: Abyssal City.

The title is way too long if you ask me.

Valdis Story Abyssal City on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/252030/Valdis_Story_Abyssal_City/

TN’s Indie Impressions – Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

I am frequently tired of “save the world” plots in games. Don’t get me wrong, its nice to be the hero in fantasy, but sometimes you want a more personal story. A story about people, trying to learn about themselves and grow. Sure, you might save some people along the way, solve some issues, retake a throne or two, but at the end of the day, its about the journey, not the destination.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is such a game. A story of a king and queen, removed and exiled from their kingdom on their wedding day, and the journey they take to both learn about themselves and each other, and to retake their rightful throne.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/368080/Aurion_Legacy_of_the_KoriOdan/

And always remember…STAY NERDY!

TN’s Indie Impressions – Torchlight 2 Switch Port

Its time for the 4th Special Edition of Indie Impressions, and specifically I am looking at an older game that just recently got a Switch Port. That of the action RPG by Runic Games and published by Perfect World, Torchlight 2. Can this Diablo Clone hold up on a home console?

Well lets find out! The game goes for $20

Torchlight 2 on the Switch EShop: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/torchlight-2-switch/
Torchlight 2 on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/200710/Torchlight_II/

TN’s Indie Impressions – Pagan Online

Time for the third ever special edition of Indie Impressions, this time on the game Pagan Online. The best way I can describe this is as follows:

Slavic Isometric Buy to Play Warframe, but without the fun. I wish it was otherwise, but thats how I feel.

Pagan Online on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/992640/Pagan_Online/

And always remember…STAY NERDY!

Grim Dawn + Ashes of Malmouth, The Crucible, and Forgotten Gods: A Review

Hello everyone, Clay here with yet another video game review!  One subgenre of RPG I particularly love is the Action RPG or ARPG genre, which really came into its own with Diablo, was cemented with Diablo 2, and has grown to encompass many different games such as Titans Quest, FATE, Torchlight, and the focus of today’s review, Grim Dawn.

Grim Dawn was developed by CRATE Entertainment and released on 2/25/2016 and has since seen 2 major expansions (Ashes of Malmouth and Forgotten Gods) and one mini DLC expansion (The Crucible).  Most of CRATE came from the same team that created Titans Quest, and you can see a lot of similarities between the two games once you get going.  However, how does Grim Dawn stack up compared to say Diablo 3, or Path of Exile, or any of the other ARPGs new and old?  Well thats what I am here to talk about!

Also I will be discussing the expansions as well, as I own all the parts and pieces to the Grim Dawn package.  Truth be told, if you are going to play Grim Dawn, you will want Ashes of Malmouth and Forgotten Gods as they complete the story being told in this game.  The Crucible can safely be skipped.

VISUALS

This game uses a style that is very reminiscent of Steampunk or something out of the Industrial revolution.  Everything is dark, gritty, and for the most part muted.  Architecture is gothic in style and almost everything in the world is in a state of decay, which makes sense as Humanity is on its last legs.  Your weapons and armor will be dull metals, dark and again, gritty.  That’s the best way to really describe the world: Gritty.  Even in the brighter areas of the game, things tend to be muted and somber.

Environments are surprisingly varied.  You started out in a sort of flooded plains area with some ruined towns and a lot of graveyards, move into a forest surrounding another massive ruined town, and then eventually go into hills, mountains, and large scale ruined cities.  Ashes of Malmouth has a full on swamp leading into a super massive ruined city, and Forgotten Gods adds a huge desert environment to the mix.  The environments flow into each other well, as the large scale world is mostly seamless as well.  The mood the visuals convey fits the theme of this world, one ruined by war between two enemy factions with humans caught in the middle.

The actual visual effects used for your character are also solid.  Not super flashy for the most part, each attack looks good for the most part.  However, things can get pretty hectic on screen at times with enough attacks from both you and your enemies firing, and the ground effects used for things like Aetherfire and regular fire can make figuring out what exactly is hurting you a chore.  It can be messy on screen frequently especially if you are playing a spell heavy build.

The UI can also be a tad confusing to get used to with its layout, but once you get used to how you setup your hotbars and loot filters it gets better.

AUDIO & SOUND DESIGN

First and foremost the music reminds me of Diablo 2 in all the right ways.  Its guitar heavy, moody, and somber pretty much all the way through, punctuated by more frantic tones when a boss battle or action heavy encounter occurs.  The music also does not loop, so you will sometimes be wandering in silence, adding to the atmosphere of the game as a whole.  There is some voice acting here and there, and its decent work but nothing stellar.  It’s very infrequent and honestly, you could turn it off and never miss it.

The sound design is pretty solid as well.  Attacks and abilities have great sound design.  I played an Oathkeeper, and my primary attack was throwing my shield at enemies like Captain America, and every time it hit the dull clang was wonderful to hear.  Explosions, screams, all of it is great and again fits the tone and mood of this very dark somber game.

STORY & WORLD

Let’s start with the base games storyline.  There will be some slight spoilers here to how things play out, but I will be keeping most of the major stuff hidden away.  You start the game by, well, being hanged by the neck in an effort to kill you.

You see, in the world of Grim Dawn, Humanity is on its last legs and the survivors have holed up in various strongholds trying to deal with a dual threat.  On one side, we have the Aetherials, spirit beings that can possess humans and on the other we have the cults who worship the Chthonians, horrible demonic beings from another realm.  Both sides want to control or kill the Humans, and you start the game being possessed by an Aetherial.  The only way to kill an Aetherial is to kill its vessel before the Aetherial escapes, and as you are hung out to die, the being leaves your body and you are cut down.

You awaken with the unique ability to open Rift Gates, and from there you go on a long journey to help the last survivors of Humanity do just that: Survive.  Along the way you end up focusing your efforts on the Chthonian threat mostly, and end the game killing a horrible demonic entity they attempted to summon, ending their power.

Ashes of Malmouth however deals with the Aetherial threat as well as tying up the loose ends left over at the end of the base game.  Now I did not finish the Ashes of Malmouth storyline, but I did get about half way through and I can tell you that it was engaging up to that point, with plenty of interesting factions.  Finally, Forgotten Gods takes place after Ashes, and has you dealing with the forgotten gods of the world, the three witch gods, and their attempts to come back now that the Aetherials and Chthonians have been dealt with.

The world building in this game is fairly passive, all things considered.  Most of the story is from dialog you get when taking quests, and journals you pick up out in the world.  However, you can frequently miss things, and when the game decided the Chthonians were my main threat for example in the base storyline, I got really confused.  I had no idea where that decision had been made, but at that point I was having too much fun just killing enemies and exploring this hand crafted world I simply did not care.  Overall, the story and world are solid, but you could just as easily not pay attention to the story and miss very little, all things considered.

GAMEPLAY

The best way I can describe the gameplay of this game is as follows: More complex and with more depth then Diablo 3, but not as much as Path of Exile.  The game uses your standard click to move control scheme, with 2 hotbars and both Left and Right click as bindable to any attack or spell you have learned.  You have a Rift power which is your town portal as well, a grid based inventory system, shared and personal Stash with multiple tabs you can purchase, and a crafting system very similar to Diablo 3 with randomized crafts using materials you find.

There are a couple of oddities however.  First, your gear is not colored the way most of us long time ARPG players are used to.  Traditionally, in an ARPG, white items are common, blue are magic, yellow are rare, green are Set, and orange are unique/legendary.  If you add in Purple from MMOs as epics, you get the standard gear color progression.  However, in grim dawn things get odd!  White are still common, but YELLOW are magic, GREEN are Rare, BLUE are Epic, and PURPLE are Legendary.  It can take some serious getting used to in order to deal with this seemingly simple shift and it honestly bugs the hell outta me.

Additionally, the game has 2 primary systems that are very different from pretty much every ARPG save for Titans Quest: The mastery system, and the Devotion system.  Starting with the Devotion system, these are points you earn from cleansing shrines out in the world, which you then use to unlock Constellations in this huge star chart.  These unlocks give you new passive effects like 10% more life, or 15% more fire damage, as well as Powers that you attach to your spells and attacks, such as one that summons Meteors with a 15% chance to trigger every time you use the skill it’s attached to.  It’s very similar to the Passive Skill tree in Path of Exile and there is a lot of customization to it, as you must unlock earlier constellations to get access to later ones.  Here is a prime example, using my own Devotion Tree from my Shieldbreaker.

Use of an offline skill planner is heavily suggested for this.  There is a good one right here.

The second primary system is the Mastery system.  You see, rather than having defined classes like Warrior, Mage, or Warlock, the game has a total of 9 Masteries (6 in the base game, 2 from Ashes of Malmouth, and 1 from Forgotten Gods).  You choose your first mastery at level 2, which gives you a set of skills unique to that mastery.  Then at level 10 you choose a second mastery tree, giving you 2 skill trees and a unique class name.  The 6 masteries in the base game are Soldier, Demolitionist, Arcanist, Occultist, Nightblade, and Shaman.  Ashes of Malmouth added the Inquisitor and Necromancer, and Forgotten Gods added the Oathkeeper.  My character is a Demolitionist / Oathkeeper, which gives me the unique class name of Shieldbreaker.

Each mastery tree is made up of a collection of Passive skills, Active powers, and modifiers to those active powers.  Blackwater Cocktail is an active power in the Demolitionist tree, for example, that has a few modifiers connected to it in a line, giving it increased damage, a new damage type, and more.  It’s also easy to tell active and passives apart in your mastery trees, as actives are Square, Passives are Round, and if a passive is a modifier it will have a line connecting it to a Square active.  Further, you have your Mastery Bar, which is at the bottom and gives you raw Stats (Physique, Cunning, and Spirit) as well as more HP and Energy.  You need to put points in your mastery bar in order to unlock more skills as you progress.  You get 3 skill points per level up to level 50, and then it tapers off to 2 after that.  You also get 1 Stat point every level which you can put into your Physique, Cunning, and Spirit, which increases your damage types, health, and so one as well as allow you to equip better gear.

The sheer amount of available builds here is quite large.  I think there is roughly (if you include both expansions) 72 possible combinations (9 x 8) all of which are viable, although some are more viable then others.  You can do pure pet builds, caster builds, bizarre hybrid builds, the works.  Hell even my Shieldbreaker was built in a way unique to me, with a focus on the Aegis on Menhir skill (where you throw your shield and it bounces between enemies) and I also focused on Fire Damage.  But I could have used any other skill from Demolitionist and Oathkeeper as a primary attack and done just fine.

Another interesting feature of the game is the fact that it is a hand crafted world and not procedurally generated.  The maps are static, with one a few things moving around (such as hidden areas and their entrances).  There are “Roguelike Dungeons” you can access eventually, which require a crafted key and have randomized layouts as an activity, but by and large every zone will always be the same, which makes finding your way around easy enough.  Forgotten Gods and Ashes of Malmouth really don’t change the gameplay up, but rather add new areas, bosses, items, and the masteries to the game.  Also, one final thing: All areas have level scaling to a point, and the game also uses the classic 3 tiered difficulty settings.  You have Normal, Elite, and Ultimate, and the only way to ever reach 100 is to get to Ultimate, which requires beating elite and normal.  There is also a faction system in game, as well as randomized bounty quests you can do if you need objectives to complete.

Now, Forgotten Gods adds one unique system called “The Shattered Realm” which is basically the RIFT system from Diablo 3, or the Atlas from Path of Exile.  You enter the Realms, you have a time limit for bonus loot, and your objective is to kill your way forward in an ever increasingly difficult world with stacking modifiers to you and the enemies.  It’s fun and a good side activity for when you just want to kill things and get loot, and challenge your build.

And here is where I will talk about the Crucible.  This is an alternative game mode where you can use your character to fight in wave battles against enemies, earning rewards for every wave you complete.  It has its own difficulty system as well.  It’s a fun activity but it can get boring really quickly.  It is good for leveling up fast though.  However, with Shattered Realms being in the Forgotten Gods expansion this is honestly even more skippable then it was already to me.

As always here is some gameplay courtesy of one of my streams, where I run around with my Shieldbreaker pretending to be Captain America:

FINAL THOUGHTS

Grim Dawn is, without a doubt, one of the best Action RPGs on the market right now.  It’s got a great blend of accessibility and complexity that for me, just puts it above other games like Path of Exile and Diablo 3.  Plus, once you own it, you own it, and it does not require an internet connection to play!  It does feature multiplayer if that’s your thing as well.

However, you will want both Ashes of Malmouth AND Forgotten Gods to get the complete package, as they add tons of items, areas, quests, and the 3 additional masteries to the game.  Plus they finish the story begun in the base game.

If you are a fan of Action RPGs and have not played Grim Dawn I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so.

You can purchase Grim Dawn at the following locations:

The CRATE Website:  https://www.grimdawn.com/contribute_buynow01.php

GoG:  https://www.gog.com/game/grim_dawn

Steam:  https://store.steampowered.com/app/219990/Grim_Dawn/

 

Dragonball Xenoverse 2: A Review

I love Dragonball Z.  Growing up, it was my second anime that I ever watched back on Cartoon Networks Toonami block.  The first was Sailor Moon, by the way (and Mercury is best girl).  I was entranced by the action, the insanity, the martial arts, and all that jazz.  I never watched GT, and honestly I have not seen DBZ Supers either at the moment, but I have always loved the magical world of the Z Fighters.

A couple of years ago, the first Dragonball Xenoverse game was released, and I bought and played the hell outta it.  It was decent, but not great, and after I finished it with my character I put it down and never picked it up again.

Then Xenoverse 2 was released, and it improved on the first in basically every way, while adding new features and options as well.  Today I wanted to break down the good and bad of this fantastic game, and show you all the power of the Dragon.

VISUALS

This game does a fantastic job of bringing the world, characters, and art of Akira Toriyama to life in 3D.  The designs feel like they are straight out of the show, and the colorful nature of the world is represented here wonderfully.  Further, character designs seem like they are ripped straight from the show or manga.  The stages you can battle in each have their own theme and it’s easy to tell them apart.  When you are on a Namek stage, for example, the colors and style make it very clear where you are.  Everything just works together.

My Main, Zaevrick, named after Saevrick

Animation wise, the attacks and moves you are capable of doing all look and feel like, again, they are ripped straight from the anime.  When you unleash a Galick Gun, or Destructo Disc, or Kamehameha blast it all looks perfect.  Overall the visual presentation of this game makes it feel like you are really in the show.  Although, admittedly, the lip sync is off in pretty much every cutscene, and in cutscenes characters can seem stiff at times.  It’s a small gripe, but it is there.

AUDIO

Let’s start with the bad here.  The background music that plays in the primary hub of Conton City is decent, but repetitive.  You have something like 14 available tracks you can play, however you have to manually switch between them.  There is no shuffle, and trust me, after a while the BGM of the city where you spend a great deal of time will start to drive you mad.  I really wish they had added a shuffle, because it’s a pain to have to enter menus just to give yourself something new to listen to.  The stage music also can grate after a while, but you can again select from different tracks in the menus.

The voice acting however is near perfect.  I swear it sounds like they got the English VA cast to come back and voice their characters again.  Every single one sounds show accurate, which is amazing.  Sometimes, however, what a character says in a cutscene does NOT match the written dialog exactly.  It’s still the same tone and overall feel, but the words are different.  You can also use Japanese voices if you wish as well.  Finally, your character will have a selectable voice during character creation and you WILL hear it.  You have voice clips for nearly every special move, and it’s awesome to hear.  Nothing says loving like hearing your character scream KAMEHAMEHA! before letting loose a big ol blue energy beam.

The sound effects for attacks and strikes and specials are all perfect as well, with a nice meaty sound to em.

STORY AND WORLD

First off you do not need to play Xenoverse 1 to understand Xenoverse 2.  The only connection between the two is that if you played Xenoverse 1 you can import your character, which will change who Trunks is partnered with in the second game.  Beyond that, the events you participate in are, by and large, nearly identical.

In Xenoverse 2 you are a member of the Time Patrol, a fighter tasked with keeping the various Timelines in the universe correct.  Villains exist who seek to manipulate or change events, such as Goku and Piccolo’s fight with Raditz, for nerfarious and mysterious ends.  Your job is to enter those changed events and correct em so the original outcome takes place.  Along the way you will experience DBZ History all the way through the Majin Buu saga of the show, helping to make sure that the major events that took place stay correct.

It’s a pretty basic story, all things considered, but it lets fans of the show experience pivotal moments of the show in person as it were, making you feel like you had a hand in shaping DBZ history.  Sadly, the story does not explain WHY these events are important, so unless you are familiar with the show or manga, you will no idea why Goku had to die when he fought Raditz, or why Goku went Super Saiyan for the first time.  It just won’t have any impact on you without the knowledge from the show, and the game does not provide that background at all.

Majin WHO?

GAMEPLAY

At its core, this game is an Action RPG Brawler.  You will enter stages with objectives to complete, and you will play through those stages using a barebones 3D fighting system.  You have light and heavy strikes, a block, jump/flight, grab, and ki blast as your basic moves.  You can also use up to 4 changeable Special Attacks, 2 Ultimate attacks, an Evasion move, and a Transformation.

As you complete stages you will gain Score, which is basically experience, and level up.  Every level up gives you 3 Attribute points which you can place in Health, Stamina, Ki, Basic Attacks, Strike Supers, and Ki Supers.  The first three are your bars during a fight.  Health is your HP and if it hits zero you go down. Stamina controls how many Vanishes you can do, your block ability, and how long you can dash.  Ki is for any special or ultimate moves you have equipped such as a Kamehameha or Galick Gun.  At the end of a stage you will also earn Zeni (the games money), TP medals (a secondary currency), and on occasion items and new skills.

In fact, the primary way to earn new special and ultimate attacks is through the drop system, and at times the RNG can feel pretty rough.  I have spent hours trying to get certain attacks to drop from side quests at times.  You can however also learn special and ultimate attacks via the Master system, where you apprentice to famous DBZ characters like Yamcha, Nappa, Whis, and others to learn their signature moves.  Finally, you can learn Transformation moves, both general ones and race specific ones, through a variety of means.  Things like Golden Form for the Frieza race, or Super Saiyan for the Saiyan race exists, as well as things like Kaioken and Unleashed Potential which everyone can use.

Golden Huh? This is the Frieza Race Transformation.

There is also a full equipment system, where you can wear a head, torso, arms, and legs costume items which can affect your stats.  There are also accessories which just change how you look, and QQ Bangs, which are craftable items that will replace your equipment stats with the QQ Bangs stats.  Be aware that QQ Bangs are affected by RNG and the combinations you can make don’t always make sense.  Most people use a QQ Bang however so they can wear whatever items they want to make their character fabulous.

When you start the game you will choose one of 5 races (Earthling, Majin, Frieza, Namekian, or Saiyan), your sex (Friez and Namekian dont have this as far as I can tell they are agender), and then your starting fighting style which will dictate your starter moves.

As you play through the story missions you will unlock new masters, new items in the shops that exists in the hub of Conton City, eventually the ability to fly in Conton City (get through the Frieza Saga for this), and new Masters will show up that you can under.  You will also unlock new Parallel quests, which are this games side quest system and the primary way outside of Masters to earn new equipment and special attacks.  These are usually cool What If scenarios, like “What if Frieza had your help and beat the Z Fighters?” and things of that nature.  You will spend a lot of time doing these so be ready.

This is the QQ Bang System

During Story Missions you will have a set goal and set AI controlled team mates for the most part.  However, during Parallel quests you can actually take any combination of 3 Unlocked characters you wish!  Want to play AS Goku?  This is how you do it.  Want a team of 3 Raditz to face off against Frieza?  You totally can, and its hilarious.  You can also take your master with you to raise their friendship meter, which will eventually help you unlock their Dual Ultimate attack, where you and them combine your attacks to create some really awesome effects.  The video I will link below form my stream has some examples of me getting these to work.  Protip: take 2 copies of your master if you can with you, and your friendship meter will double charge.  Also, if your master likes you enough sometimes they will randomly appear during missions to assist you in your fights.

There are also a few side activities in the game called Time Rifts, a system called the Hero Coliseum where you have little figure battles, and a full PVP system where you can play against other players using your Created Characters or the Roster you have unlocked.  Additionally, you can do Parallel Quests in Multiplayer as well, and there are also Raid events where 5 players go up against a super boss.  You can also do Raid events with yourself and 4 AI Team Mates, but it can be a bit rough do to so.  Raids also drop exclusive equipment from them.

For a good example of how the game plays and looks I present one of my streams of the game, where I work through some master missions, fight with the RNG Drop Rate to get some attacks I was missing, and even do some of the story mode.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As much as I love this game, there is one major issue with it.  If you are NOT a fan of the anime or manga, this game is pointless for you.  No, really.  It will never explain who the characters are, it will never explain why the events you are correcting are important, it will explain NOTHING.  Why is Goku so important?  You will not learn.  Who is Broly and why is everyone afraid of him?  You will not be told.

This is a game for fans of the series.  This game lets you live out the fantasy that many of us growing up had: of being a Z fighter, of training with Krillan and Yamcha and Goku.  Of having sparring matches with Vegeta and Buu.  If you are a fan of the show, or manga, and you want to live out that dream then you need to pick this game up asap, and all its DLC (which covers DBZ Supers and some of the movies).  If you are not a fan of the show?  Then you can safety skip this game honestly because you will not get much out of it.

You can pick this game up on Steam right HERE.

18 Minutes of Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines 2 Gameplay: My Thoughts & Observations

Hello everyone! With E3 2019 currently underway lots of new information about various games and upcoming releases is appearing, and IGN recently posted a video showing a little over 18 minutes of Pre Alpha (I wanna stress this, PRE ALPHA) game footage of the upcoming Urban Fantasy Action RPG Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines 2, which is a game I am super excited for. I mean, I am currently playing VTM Bloodlines 1 (Thanks to my Patreon Game Club members) over on Twitch and posting it to Youtube, so you can imagine how excited I am for this.

Now I wanted to share with you all my personal observations and thoughts based on this footage as this is the first time we have had any real look at how the game is shaping up.

First, lets link the IGN Video so you can watch it.

Alright. First and foremost I want to say that the visual presentation is stunning. The city shown here, which is Seattle, is dark moody and fitting. Everything looks nice and clean, and honestly while watching this footage I kept wishing I was in control so I could explore every nook and cranny shown here. Plus, there is verticality here! Unlike VTM Bloodlines 1, they show off the fact that you have the ability to spider climb up walls in this game, which means that you can possibly find hidden areas and alternative routes into places just by really exploring each area. That alone changes the game up dramatically from the first, and I am excited to see what they do with this.

Also the current UI looks pretty solid as well. The health bar over in the lower left was easy enough to understand, with aggrevated damage being marked it seemed by the yellowish bits. Plus the Blood Meter appears to be a bit easier to read as well, with dots showing exactly how much blood you have available. One issue I have in VTM Bloodlines 1 is telling exactly how much blood I have since its a bar, but every ability references spending Points. But the bar doesnt show Points its a bar. Having Dots showing exactly how many Blood Points I have to spend is a much better idea. The compass at the top is also simple to read. It also shows you the kind of zone you are in: Masquerade, Blindspot, and Blank (which I assume means all bets are off).

I am assuming that the Blindspots are where you can take action without being seen. Maybe use the Attract command I saw popping up (which I assume is used to entice people for feeding) and then lead them over to a Blindspot to have a little snack.

Now, for those who are unaware, the Masquerade is basically the rules Vampires live by, and one of those rules is dont let the humans know you exist. In a zone marked as Masquerade, you don’t want to use your Vampire abilities lest the Kine (ie the humans) realize they are not alone in this world. I did notice the player who was controlling the game use his climbing abilities AND fall from great heights with no issue, so I wonder if those just dont break the Masquerade, or if the NPCs never saw it, or if its just not implemented. I dunno bout the rest of ya but if I saw someone run up the side of a building I would be a bit confused / concerned.

The interiors looked great as well, visually. Also, I love that I can still dance in the clubs, and that the dancing is still dumb as hell. Vampires can’t dance I suppose.

When the player meets that female Vampire (And she is a vamp, you can see her fangs if you pay attention) I felt the animations for her face were a tiny bit stiff, but I kind of expect that from a smaller studio. We are not going to get Kojima / CD Projekt Red levels of quality here just because of budget and size. The dialog was great, plenty of choices given, and I saw some skill checks later (stuff like Coercion, Humanity, ect). Also the voice acting was actually really well done. Both the lady vamp, the Nosferatu, and Slug sounded great and I really happy with that.

Speaking of the Nosferatu….I am disappointed in how human he looked. He even had fancy ass clothes! The entire point of the Nosferatu line is that they DO NOT appear human, at all. Whatsoever. He does. He looks like someone with a skin condition, and given that my day job is working with Dermatology Medications FOR SKIN CONDITIONS I know what I am referring to here. I have seen more freaky and horrifying stuff just doing my day job then I saw from him. Slug, the apparently Nosferatu Thinblood you are sent after in this demo looked more inhuman then the fullblooded Nosferatu and this disappoints me. VTM Bloodlines 1 made them look correct if you ask me, with horrible mismatched teeth, bizarre eyes, weird bumps and contusions and all that jazz. In VTM Bloodlines 1 you would NEVER mistake a Nosferatu as a human. You could with that one.

Combat is still janky as hell though. This is a pre alpha so I am hoping that gets polished up but honestly, it looks about as well done as VTM Bloodlines 1, only in pure first person rather then First for ranged and 3rd for melee. Enemies didnt react much when struck, although they did have little voice clips that indicated their confusion as to how or why the player is able to take knives and shotgun blasts without stopping. Thats a nice touch. Also the enemies still ragdoll in hilarious fashion and this pleases me.

The powers shown here are also pretty cool. We got the wall running and no fall damage, but we also get to see the mist usage to access a fan and enter a building. We get to see some sort of AOE Damage pulse, we get to see a buff that seems to make the player stronger, an enemy go invisible (OBFUSCATE!) and I think that was it. We also got to see the feeding animation, which again seemed to be taken directly from VTM Bloodlines 1 complete with the shove away.

Overall I am exceedingly happy with what I saw here. It feels like an updated version of VTM Bloodlines 1 just from what I saw, and that alone is enough for me to want to purchase / play it. I am confident that the folks behind the game are going to do a great job as long as it keeps up with the current style and feel that I saw here.

You can learn more about the game at the website, as well as find places to purchase it. Currently its set to release sometime in 2020.

As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?

Edit 6/13/19 – Some additional footage from GameSpot has cropped up that may give a better perspective on the combat. You can see that additional video footage below.

 

Impressions: Path of Exile

Editors Note (6/10/19): The current league is called Legion and is a very solid league with a massive melee rework.

You might think that more than 300 hours in a single game would make me feel like an expert in that game.  And if it was something as simple as, say, Fallout 4 (I am somewhere around 250 hours in that) you would be correct.  But Path of Exile is something very very different, and even at 300+ hours I still have a lot to learn about the deeper mysteries of the game.  I am far from an expert, hell I don’t even feel comfortable making my own builds yet really, but I have played the game enough to talk about it in more general terms, to explain the basics as it were and the practices behind it, so that you might know what is going on and if the game is for you.  For those curious, Path of Exile is a Free to Play Online “MMO” Action RPG, developed by Grinding Gear Games.  Think Diablo 2.5 and you have a good starting point, but the game is SO MUCH MORE than that.

I started playing Path of Exile during the “Harbinger League”, which is also when the game launched the Fall of Oriath expansion, adding acts 5 thru 10 and changing how progression worked.  Previously you had to repeat the original four acts 3 times in order to get to the game’s Endgame, but now there is a straight forward 10 act progression before the end game systems.  I have since played in pretty much every league, barring one or two I skipped (Bestiary was skipped entirely, and I didn’t really get far in Abyss).  I have also never killed the end game bosses such as Shaper or Elder, but I have gotten to what players refer to as “Red Maps” a couple times.  And I figured, with this newest shakeup of the Betrayal league, and me breaking the 300 hour mark, it was time for me to get my thoughts on this amazing game on paper as it were.

Now, bear in mind, I am calling this an Impressions rather than a Review, because this is a living game much like my previous discussion on Soul Workers.  Being an online free to play game that has new leagues (for you Diablo 3 players, these are basically the game’s seasons) that add new mechanics or completely change how the game works, this game is constantly evolving.  As such, these are my thoughts at the time of writing this which is during the Betrayal League (Dec 2018 to roughly Feb/Mar 2019) but a lot of what I am going to go over is pretty standard core stuff.  So let’s jump right in starting as always with the visual presentation of the game.

VISUALS

First and foremost this is an isometric action RPG in the same vein as games like Grim Dawn, Diablo, and Torchlight.  It uses a very dark and gritty style, which fits the themes of the game completely.  Colors are for the most part muted, and each area and act has a distinct visual style.  Act 1 for example is all coastal while act 3 is in the ruins of a massive city called Sarn, etc.  There is a definite sense of progression visually as you move through the world which I appreciate greatly.  You got jungles, cities both ruined and new, buildings, cave systems, forests, deserts, and more.  Biomes are pretty diverse all things considered.

Enemies are pretty solid, design wise, and again fit the theme of each area.  In the first act you will face a lot of zombies, skeletons, crabs, and crazed bandits.  Later acts involve creepy mutant abominations and a whole lot of blood and weird shit.  It all works well.  The armor and weapon models, when you are not covering them up with your MTX (Cosmetic Microtransactions) are pretty decent as well, and each of the 7 available classes will look different depending on what they are wearing.

One standout for me however are the effects of your abilities and skills.  Whether it’s the fiery fissures of the skill Tectonic Slam, or the lightning of Arc, or the Meteors falling from the sky in the skill Armageddon Brand, they all look amazing.  The screen can quickly fill up with these effects as well, enemies firing off similar attacks and abilities to yours.  If your GPU is not up to snuff you can have some issues.  Also the water effects are really solid and recently got upgraded.  Overall I adore the visual style of this game, and have really no issues with it at all, other than the obsession with the color red at times.  Seriously, there is a LOT of red and blood in this game.  Like holy shit so much.

AUDIO

I have the soundtrack on my phone and listen to it on my drive to and from work.  That should tell you all you need to know about the music of this game.  It’s phenomenal.  The tracks are moody, atmospheric, and just perfect for each area and act as you play the game.  Each new league or expansion that comes out adds even MORE excellent music to the game as well.  Seriously, it’s that freaking good.

The sound effects are another treat.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as hearing your enemies shatter into a million pieces after you freeze them, or hearing the massive thud of your attacks as you strike the ground causing it to crack and explode.

There is also voice acting, which is for the most part stellar as well.  Each of the 7 characters have unique voice lines starting in Act 1 and up to Act 4.  Most NPCs in town also have voice lines and voiced lore / dialog you can listen to.  However, after Act 4 your character will basically cease speaking, and its a huge shame here.  I love the little quips my characters would make upon entering new areas, or killing Act bosses, but all that stops once you get through Act 4.  After that, you are basically playing a silent protagonist and this just really sucks.  Beyond that however, there are zero issues, for me, in sound design.

STORY AND WORLD

What may surprise you is that there is a ton of lore, story, and world building in this game.  Most Action RPGs in fact don’t have anywhere near the amount of detail spent in this one setting up the history of the world, its peoples, and its timelines.

And it’s all hidden in plain sight.  If you never read the extra NPC dialog, and the books hidden in the zones, you will never know what the hell is going on or how things got to where they are beyond a very cursory idea.

The game starts with your character being Exiled to the continent of Wraeclast (each character has a unique reason for their exile), washing up on the shores of a dark beach.  From there you make your way to the small outpost of Lions Watch, and begin helping the other survivors and exiles try to live in this untamed and dark world.  As you move forward in the world, you start to uncover things happening, and gradually everything gets, well worse and worse.  Once you finish all 10 acts of the main story, the secondary end game story of the Atlas starts, and I am not even going to begin to get into that.  Along the way you will meet a colorful cast of characters, interact with them, and learn their histories.

But only if you want to.  You can just as easily ignore EVERYTHING and just rush through the acts as fast as possible, and honestly most of us players do after we did em once.  I really only pay attention to the new lore added in the Leagues when it happens, such as what is going on in the Betrayal league right now.

It’s very passive storytelling, and its amazing stuff, but its stuff you can consume or not at your leisure.  You can always go back for what you missed, but if all you wanna do is blast hordes of enemies into so many bloody chunks, well, the game is built for that.  And let’s talk about HOW you do that.

GAMEPLAY

Strap yourselves in because this is going to be a doozy.  You may think this game would be as simple to understand as something like Diablo 2/3 or Torchlight.  You would be dead wrong.  Where this game excels is in its customization, options, and gameplay.  While it is a standard Action RPG where Left and Right Click are your movement and action keys, you also have 6 hot keys you can assign for additional skills (Middle Mouse, then QWERT by default, although you can rebind these.  I have the last two, R and T, as Mouse 4 and 5 on my setup).  Most people bind Left Click to Move, and setup Right Click as their Primary attack or Skill.  Controls are very simple in this game, which appeals to me personally. I can in essence play the game one handed mouse only if I wanted.

Now, when you start the game you will be presented with your choice of 6 Characters: The Witch, the Duelist, the Marauder, the Templar, the Ranger, and the Shadow.  A 7th character, the Scion, can be unlocked by rescuing her in Act 3.  All characters are Gender Locked. Templar, Shadow, Duelist, and Marauder are Males.  Witch, Ranger, and Scion are Females.  You cannot change this.  You will also choose your “League”.  You have Standard League, which is a permanent league and where any characters made in the Temp Leagues go after that temp league is done.  Then you have Temp leagues, which usually run about 3 months and frequently have all sorts of mechanics and additions.  Some of those additions will be moved to Standard, some wont.  As I write this, the current Temp League is called Betrayal, which added a group of enemies called the Immortal Syndicate on TOP Of everything else already in the game.  Oh and you can choose Hardcore if you want, which is your standard “One life” mode, but thankfully if you die in Hardcore your character gets sent to the Standard League.  The character is still playable at least.  You can also do Solo Self Found, which turns the game into a single player experience (you can normally group up with up to 7 other players, and trade, but SSF blocks all that).

Now, as far as your choice of character, it only effects your visual appearance, your voice lines, and where you start on the massive Passive Skill Tree.  What is this Passive Skill Tree?  Well, the best way to describe it is to show it.  Here is a picture of it, although its way zoomed out so you cant really tell what each node is.

If you are looking at that and going “Haven’t I seen this before?” you might have seen the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X.  It’s very similar.  The Scion starts in the center, and everyone else starts around her.  That tree is ONLY Passive abilities.  You can find simple stuff, like +10 to Strength, Intelligence, or Dexterity (your 3 core stats), to stuff like +10% more HP overall, or specific things like “You can summon +1 Totem but can’t do damage with your own attacks” or “You are immune to Chaos Damage, but your max HP is 1” and so on.  Every time you level up, and as a reward from some quests, you will gain a single skill point to put somewhere on that tree.  You can also earn respec points from quests and an item called “Orb of Regret” so don’t worry if you goof up a choice.

On top of that, starting in Act 3 you can do what’s called your Ascension, which gives you a choice of 3 “Class Upgrades” unique to your chosen class (although the Scion only has 1 choice, Ascendant).  You can ascend 4 times total: Once after Act 3, then again after during Act 7, then again during Act 10, and finally one more time in the end game Atlas system.  Each time you get 2 Ascendancy Points to place in your Ascendancy Tree.  You must complete a trial called the Labyrinth each time you want to Ascend however, and it’s no walk in the park early on.  These sheer level of customization and combinations here is staggering.  Oh, and there are also Jewel Sockets on the tree where you can slot in a Jewel Item if you find one and have unlocked that node.  7 Classes, that massive tree, each class having 3 unique Upgrade paths (except the Scion)?  You getting overwhelmed yet?

Well it gets crazier.  You see, you don’t learn new attacks or abilities, but instead slot them into your gear via Gems.  There are 2 kinds of Gems: Actives, and Support Gems.  Active gems are your active powers.  They could be things like a Ground Slam, a Fireball, summoning a totem that distracts enemies, create an aura that buffs your attacks or debuffs your enemies, and so on.  These are how you interact with the world and your enemies.  Each Gem has a color (Red, Blue, or Green) and must be slotted into a Gem Slot on a piece of your gear that matches its color.  There are white slots on gear that can accept any color gem as well, but these are very VERY rare.  The slots on your gear can also be linked, visually shown by a gold icon between the slots.  Each item can have a different number of slots on it, and links.  For example, chest armor can have 6 slots, and can be linked fully.  Additionally, links can be chained, so if you have 3 slots on your gear for example like this: Red Red Red, and between the first and middle Red, and then the Middle Red and Last Red you have a link, then all 3 slots are linked together.

Why are these links important?  Well, Support Gems are why.  Support Gems are a type of gem that modify active gems.  You could, say, turn a Curse that you have to cast on an enemy, like Warlords Mark (this is a curse that will debuff enemies to let you leech life and mana from them) into an Aura that is always on and doesn’t have to be cast by using the Support Gem “Blasphemy” for example.  Or you could take a skill like Ground Slam, and use a support gem called “Added Cold Damage” to give Ground Slam additional cold damage.  A good example of this in action is my own current characters chest armor setup.  I am using an Item called “Tabula Rasa” which has no stats, but has 6 white sockets, and those sockets are all linked.  I have 1 active gem in that setup, Armageddon Brand, and then 5 support gems in the remaining spots that all modify how Armageddon Brand acts.

Each piece of gear other than your belt, rings, and necklace, will have sockets / slots and links.  You can have 1 2 handed weapon or 2 one handed items equipped.  A helmet, gloves, and boots item, then 2 rings, 1 necklace, and a belt.  There are unique slots called “Abyssal Sockets” that CAN show up on belts but that’s advanced stuff and Abyssal Sockets don’t take Skill Gems but rather Abyssal Jewels.

Believe me when I say that if all this is confusing you or overwhelming you, then you are in fine company.  I was completely confused by a lot of this early on too, and thankfully there are plenty of people out there who specialize in this game and provide Build Guides.  Mathil, ZiggyD, and Engineering Eternity are 3 Streamer/Youtubers I suggest you watch if you want to get started with this game as they frequently have “Starter Build” guides that give you Skill Gem setups, passive tree / Ascendancy setups, and even gear setups so you can get into the game without having to get caught up in this giant web of customization.  As you get more experienced, you can start to tweak their builds, and hopefully (eventually) do your own.  I still use them even after 300 hours of play, but I do tweak things now and again, especially gem stuff to fit my preferred playstyle.

Actual mechanical gameplay is pretty straight forward.  You move around procedurally generated zones, completing quests and finding massive piles of loot and currency items, trying to find the exit to the next zone and sometimes trying to locate a waypoint so you can easily travel back.  You will fight bosses on your way to finish the 10 act storyline, and then you reach the Endgame system, called the Atlas system, which honestly is something so wild that I will not get into it here.  Just watch this video by Engineering Eternity which explains the Atlas system.  Let’s just say that the 10 acts of the game is only the START of the game really, and the Atlas is where it really gets amazing.  Also the Atlas is where the hardest fights in the game (Shaper, Elder, and Uber Elder) exist.  This is my current Atlas, which is no where near filled out.  All that empty space?  More nodes, which are maps to explore.

Nevermind that there is also the Masters system (revamped in the Betrayal League) where you can do side missions for 3 masters (Niko, Alva, and Einhar) which are another layer of gameplay further still.  Niko has the Delve system (A near infinite mineshaft to explore that unique to each character), Alva has the Incursion system (build a temple by going back in time, and then looting the temple in the present), and Einhar has the Bestiary system (capture beasts to sacrifice to create unique items).  Each of these masters can be installed in your Hideout, which is account wide player housing that you can decorate to your hearts content.  You unlock new hideouts by finding them in the wild.  Oh, and you can also craft items in your hideout using a crafting bench to add new effects to your gear like resistance to elemental damage and the like.  And let’s talk about the gear and loot!

As far as loot goes, you have your weapons and armor as well as Flasks (which are your health potions and other potions) and other items which people call “Currency Items”.  Weapons and armor can be White (Normal), Blue (Magical), Yellow (Rare), and Orange (Unique).  Flasks can be White, Blue, or Orange.  Also there are jewels which can be the same as weapons rarity wise.  Now as far as Currency Items you have to understand that Path of Exile doesn’t have a gold system.  Trading is done very much in a barter system with NPCs and other players (player trading usually uses outside websites).  You either trade one item for another (a sword for a sword) or more often than not, you trade currency items with other players and NPCs to get new items.

Currency items are things like your Scrolls of Wisdom (Identify Scrolls), various Orbs, and other things.  Each Currency item also has a purpose in that they can be used.  Chaos Orbs, for example (the standard player traded currency item) allow you to “reroll” a Rare items mods, basically making the item something new (a sword will still be a sword, but if that sword has +5 fire damage and you use a chaos orb on it, it might suddenly have +10 HP and +3 Cold damage for example, but not the fire damage).  There are also Portal scrolls which give you a quick way back to town.  Can’t be an ARPG without a portal system after all!

One final unique system is the Flask system.  You have 5 Flask slots.  You place your potions here, but unlike most games where your potions are finite items, Flasks are rechargeable.  If you have a health flask in one of the slots, and use it, it will refill as you kill enemies.  Further, there are unique flasks that have special effects, and there are flasks that do things OTHER than restore Health or Mana, like Stibnite flasks which give you boosted evasion temporarily, and also blast out a smoke cloud that blinds nearby enemies, or the Quicksilver flask which gives you boosted movement speed for a bit.  These flasks can also be upgraded into magical items with Currency Orbs.

As a warning, there is an experience point penalty for death.  Once you beat the boss of Act 5, you will suffer -30% to all your resistances forever, and if you die after that, you lose 5% of your XP.  You cannot lose a level though.  Once you beat the boss of Act 10, that resistance penalty goes up to -60% and the XP Penalty goes up to 10%.  I just wanted to make sure everyone who is interested in this game is aware of this, as this may turn some of you off.

Finally, here is some gameplay footage of my Witch character, who ascended to Elementalist, playing around in the Atlas system and doing a Delve.  I am using a skill called Armageddon Brand as my main attack, which is what is causing those Boulders to drop from the sky on top of groups of enemies.  There is a lot going on here, so it’s mostly just to show you how Links look, how Gems look, and how the Passive Tree looks setup, and how the game looks in action.  The Flasks are on the Lower Left, and my Skills are on the lower right.

I know I went over a whole lot of info in this, but thankfully the game eases you into it for the most part.  And mind you, this is not every system nor every bit of mechanical depth to the game.  My goal with this was a broad strokes overview on how the game in general works, and some of the systems involved in it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Man this has been a long post, but there is so much going on in this seemingly simple title that I had to just break down as much as I could.  And mind you, there are a lot of systems I did not even get into in the gameplay section because they only come up randomly.

For me, this is the best Action RPG on the market right now.  Every 3 months you get a fresh league, with a fresh start, that you can dive into to try all sorts of varied character builds and setups.  This is a game that rewards both time spent playing in the now (with your loot and character progression) and in the long term with knowledge of its varied systems.  It is not for everyone, by far, and if you got overwhelmed or confused by my explanation of how the game plays and how the primary systems work, you may not want to try this.  But if you are willing to do some research and experiment, the game is a fun filled and fascinating adventure full of lore, world building, and tons of spectacular action & challenge.

And best of all?  It’s completely free and available on both PC and Xbox One with PS4 on the way!  The only thing your money will get you are specialized stash tabs for your stash (your account wide bank) and Cosmetic items.  You cannot ever buy power in this game at all.  Although if you want to get into Player Trading you will want a Premium Stash Tab, which will let you list things on the official Path of Exile Trade site.

If you want to play you can either grab the game On Steam or from their official Website.  If nothing else I urge you to at least try it and see if it appeals to you.  The only thing you have to lose is some free time (and space on your systems hard drive for a bit).

And again, if you need help my advice is to check out the Streamers & Youtubers in the Path of Exile world.  My personal suggestions (but there are plenty more) are again as follows:

These are the people whose videos, builds, and streams have helped me understand and form a deep love of this game.  And honestly, I cannot wait to see what is coming next for Path of Exile and its eventual 4.0 upgrade (which, if its anything like 3.0 which is when Acts 5-10 got added, is going to be insane). Hell, watch Mathil live and you might even run into me sometime.  I am a twitch subscriber of his after all.  Oh and consider grabbing Path of Building, an external piece of software that lets you plan builds and import builds.  It’s extremely handy to help understand how things work and how changes can affect your DPS / Health / Ect.

As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?